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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.

  • Bruce Dorminey shares one man's theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.

  • Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with "amepotu" for American potato.

  • Language Hat takes
  • Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to "fisk" the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.

  • Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.

  • Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian's shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city's Muslims and/or Arabs.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.

  • Discover's The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.

  • Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.

  • The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne's move into the newspaper business.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one observer's suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.

  • The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis' cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.

  • Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.

  • Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres' Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag's proposal in 1917.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.

  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald's utter failure to fit into Hollywood.

  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell's blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.

  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia's Lake Baikal.

  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.

  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe's languages.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

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  • City of Brass notes the lie that is Eurabia.

  • Crooked Timber considers Creative Commons licenses as a crude kind of anti-spam technology.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at Ontario's interest in pioneering a guaranteed minimum income program.

  • Far Outliers looks at the history of Korean prisoners of war in the Second World War in Hawai'i.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the death of Nancy Reagan.

  • Language Hat starts a discussion about the cost of designing fonts.
  • Language Log notes the difficulties of some Westerners with learning Chinese compared to Western classical languages.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the complexity of the new European Union-Turkey deal on Syrian migrants.

  • Discover's Neuroskeptic notes that we are far from being able to upload content directly to our brains.

  • Strange Maps notes how, in Turkish, different cardinal directions are associated with a different colour.

  • Is Buffalo strongly anti-gay? Towleroad considers this finding, from a social media analysis.

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Cody Delistraty introduces his readers to a new criticism of Michel Houellebecq as a writer of note. I would just add that it's important to distinguish between "attention-getting" and "good".

Few would call Houellebecq, who holds the Prix Goncourt, France’s highest literary honor, a “bad writer,” but in France he is known for his narrative inventiveness while his style is generally accepted as second-rate: something readers put up with in order to get to his ideas. And yet in Submission, his latest novel, his style is so distracting that the Parisian weekly L’Express called him out as “a poor writer but a good sociologist,” adding, “a good writer would not use ‘based on’ in lieu of ‘founded on,’ ‘however’ in place of ‘on the other hand,’ and ‘wine vintage’ when he wants to mean ‘vintage.’ ”

Houellebecq is a classically French intellectual in that the Idea comes above all. By systematically draping ideas over characters, he has created a text that is essentially a political treatise disguised as a novel. For instance, near the end, François gets into a dialogue with a former academic colleague, whereupon they proceed to discuss everything from the social instability caused by mass secularism to the supposed evolutionary benefits of polygamy—all this for multiple chapters, unrelieved by an explanation of feelings or a description of the setting or any of the other details that a reader of fiction might reasonably expect.

Characters, too, are created and erased at will. Myriam, François’ romantic interest, comes onto the scene near the middle of the novel, then disappears when she moves to Israel, never to be mentioned again except for three sentences in the final act. It’s clear that Houellebecq invented Myriam predominately as a comparison to the sexually submissive wives that François’ male friends are gifted after Mohammed Ben Abbes, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, wins the 2022 French presidential election. Nabokov famously said his characters are his “galley slaves.” Houellebecq’s characters are his way to claim his stories as novels and not academic texts.
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I have a brief post at Demography Matters noting the dip of Toronto MP Joe Daniel into Eurabian conspiracy theories. At least, I conclude, the embrace of nativist and xenophobic myths by immigrants shows that integration is working. (Ha ha.)
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I've a post up at Demography Matters noting the ridiculousness of Michel Houellebecq's new novel describing a Muslim takeover of France in 2022. May we be saved from the self-proclaimed prophets of the grimdark,
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Over at Demography Matters, I point--thanks to Will Baird--to a 2012 TED talk by the Gapminder Foundation's Hans Rosling, examining the question of the relationship between religion and fertility.

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I've a post up at Demography Matters taking a look at writer Mark Adomanis' criticism of Mark Steyn's vision of Eurabia. Steyn oversimplifies everything, you see.

Go, read.
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(Crossposted.)

http://historyandfutility.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/how-every-detail-counts-in-large-amounts/

I owe my co-blogger Jussi Jalonen thanks for the superb job placing last month's massacres in Norway in the context of an increasingly unhinged and conspiracy-minded ideology, Internet-based but spreading, whose protagonists claim that Muslim are taking over Europe (at least) through their superfecundity as enabled by traitorous multiculturalists. I couldn't write the essay; I'm even now trying to avoid despair over the issue.

Everything I've written here about information it's predicated on the beliefs that preserving information matter and that preserving as much detail as possible matters. Yes, that's in part an emotional reaction of mine to my own personal circumstances, but it's something that works very well for me from the perspective of scholarship. Detail does matter; everything counts.

My 2004 post on the non-existence of Eurabia was a product of my idle curiosity and my desire to seek some distraction from graduate school. Later, as I became more aware of what Eurabia was starting to do, I became more concerned, more strident. Breivik's massacre was the sort of thing that I'd expected to eventually happen; I felt guilty, frustrated, despairing that this had happened. If the mass of details describing reality don't register, what's the point of any of it?

Jussi's approach is best. Friend of the blog Jim Belshaw helped with this comment he posted at A Bit More Detail in response to my Eurabia-themed question wondering how you reach people who believe in unfounded things. Selected elements are below.

2. You can’t change people’s minds by direct attack on their views. You have to come at it indirectly.
3. Don’t deal in universals. Eurabia and Muslims have become universals, labels to which other things are attached. Each time you use them as universals, you carry other people’s labels with them. At a purely personal level I try to avoid the use of the world Muslim unless I am speaking about a faith with all its varieties.
4. Recognise diversity. Within Europe each country, and sometimes parts of countries, are different. Australia is different again.
5. Attack intolerance, but do not attack the validity of views on which that intolerance may draw. Precisely, recognise them and address them independently as different issues. Avoid culture wars. Don’t confuse issues.


Thanks, Jim, for the reminder. The details will reappear, here and elsewhere. It'd be an honour if you'd join us all here at History and Futility for the ride.
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I've been doing a certain amount of work in studying Eurabia, the concept (or belief) describing the conversion of Europe into an Islamic continent owing to excessively high rates of population growth among Muslims, the development of a visible Muslim presence, and the decadence of Europe's political elites. It's the sort of concept that would actually be correct if people didn't behave like people and reality was completely different: a simple overview of the numbers and trends, and a note of actually existing policies in European states, is enough to suggest that the reverse is true. American author Ralph Peters is likely right to argue that a mass expulsion of Muslims from Europe is considerably more likely on the basis of current trends.

But any number of people believe in Eurabia regardless. Arguably a growing number of people believe in the impending Eurabianizaton of their homelands--even outside Europe, as evidenced by the growth of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and associated politics in the United States among other places--and arguably many of those people are willing to translate their beliefs into actions. The massacres of Breivik are exceptional, and I hope will remain so. The gradual radical hardening of attitudes towards Muslims, perhaps on the lines described by Peters, is more likely. I'd prefer not to have an actual clash of civilizations.

It's urgent for the future that not only is Eurabia demonstrated to be false and dangerous, but that its believers be convinced that it's false and dangerous. How is this to be done? If people ignore evidence that this theory--any theory, really--is incorrect, how can their minds be changed?

Thoughts?
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Two links detailing how Breivik--and, to a considerable extent, the whole "counterjihad" movement--had hate-ons for Muslims in the former Yugoslavia and for women with any amount of autonomy seems worth sharing.

  • Eastern Approaches' T.J. observes that Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, whether Bosniaks or Albanians, were seen as interlopers deserving of the harshest treatment--occupation, massacre, expulsions, even genocide--and quite approved of various anti-Muslim génocidaires. This is not altogether surprising, since much of the language of the counterjihadists, concerned wth Muslim intrusion on traditionally Christian lands and excessive fecundity, was developed to a fine art in the former Yugoslavia--especially in Serb areas--in the 1990s, indeed driving government policy.


  • A look through Mr Breivik's 1,500-page 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he published under the pseudonym "Andrew Berwick", shows that he had a strange obsession with the Balkans. A word search for “Kosovo” comes up with 143 matches, “Serb” yields 341 matches, “Bosnia” 343 and “Albania” 208. ("Srebrenica"—the site of a Bosnian Serb massacre of some 8,000 Bosniaks in 1995—does not appear in the document.)

    The document is best described as a kind of "Mein Kampf" for our times, in which Jews are replaced by Muslims as the enemy which must be fought and expunged from Europe. Drawing on the crudest of warmongering Serbian propaganda from the 1990s, the document describes Muslim Albanians and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) as an evil jihad-waging enemy. Needless to say, its history is convoluted and misinformed.

    In one section Mr Breivik says he would like to meet Radovan Karadžić, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs who is currently on trial at the UN’s war crimes tribunal in The Hague. “But isn’t Radovan Karadžić a mass murderer and a racist?!” he asks. “As far as my studies show he is neither.”

    The document goes on to claim that for decades Muslims in “Bosnian Serbia” and Albanians waged deliberate demographic warfare, or “indirect genocide”, against the Serbs. This echoes an infamous draft memorandum by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which was leaked in 1986 and widely regarded as a key influence on Serbian nationalists at the time.

    [. . .]

    In the coming "war" that Mr Breivik foresees, he discusses the deportation of Muslims from Europe and appears to endorse the physical annihilation of any Albanians and Bosniaks that resist. As they have lived here for “several centuries”, he says, “they will not accept being deported from Europe and will fight for their survival. A more long term and brutal military strategy must therefore be applied.”


  • I noted at Demography Matters how, apart from massacre and ethnic cleansing to remove the Muslim threat, Breivik would deal with low birth rates in Europe by reversing feminism and treating women as chattel. At The Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg points out the generalized hatred of women evidenced in the whole demographic catastrophism school.


  • A terror of feminization haunts his bizarre document. “The female manipulation of males has been institutionalised during the last decades and is a partial cause of the feminisation of men in Europe,” he writes. He blames empowered women for his own isolation, saying that he recoils from the “destructive and suicidal Sex and the City lifestyle (modern feminism, sexual revolution) … In that setting, men are not men anymore, but metro sexual and emotional beings that are there to serve the purpose as a never-criticising soul mate to the new age feminist woman goddess.”

    Furious and alone, Breivik plugged into the international anti-jihadist, anti-immigrant right. One of the most notable things about his manifesto is its scant attention to Norwegian politics or authors. Most of those he quotes are American, Canadian, or English, including Steyn, Robert Bork, Rich Lowry, and Melanie Phillips. Rather than railing against Norwegian feminists, he attacks Betty Friedan and even the relatively obscure Ellen Willis. He’s deeply versed in American culture-war issues—at one point, he even rants about the so-called war on Christmas.

    Obviously, none of the writers he cites is responsible for his hideous crime. However, reading these authors pretty clearly helped him transmute his anger at women into a grandiose political ideology, and to recast himself as a latter-day crusader. He picked up the argument that selfish western women have allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and that only a restoration of patriarchy can save European culture. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.”'


    It is quite worth noting that the comments at both posts reveal that those two hatreds are disturbingly common. Commenters are the id of the world, after all.
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    I've a post up at Demography Matters taking a look at how Eurabia--fundamentally a misuse of demographic language to justify bigotry and paranoia--inspired mass murder in Norway.
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    Over at History and Futility, my co-blogger Jussi Jalonen has written about how the ideas that inspired Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik to go about his mass murders this Friday past are pretty far from being idiosyncratic to him, that they are actually the product of a disturbingly broad and productive Internet-based movement of ideologues proclaiming the existential threat posed to Europe by anything and anyone at all relatable to Islam.

    The entire essay is well worth reading, three paragraphs of which are copied below.

    Breivik wrote a manifesto where he openly stated his motives and clarified his political opinions in detail. Published in the internet, the “European Declaration of Independence” – which can be downloaded from here – is essentially a grotesque compendium of blog posts and columns, tied together with Breivik’s own narrative. The quoted writings all have in common an openly islamophobic, anti-immigration theme. According to Breivik’s twisted, but coherent logic, the “multiculturalist Marxist establishment” is attempting to convert the European Union into a “Marxist superstate, the EUSSR”; these “cultural Marxists” are also responsible for the “mass Muslim immigration” and “islamization” of Europe. Breivik is, in other words, a true believer in the so-called “Eurabia”-predictions previously discussed also on this blog, and he also believes that an open discussion of these threats was impossible due to the pervasive European “political correctness”. In his own words, Breivik was using the mass murder as means to “send a message” to the “Marxist, multiculturalist elites”. His chosen method was to wipe out the next generation of the left-wing politicians whom he saw as the culprits of the immigration policy and the destruction of his cherished European civilization.

    What’s important to remember is that Breivik’s ideology was not original, and his sick ideas were not of his own making. In essence, he was a product of the internet age, a dedicated consumer of the radical anti-Muslim political propaganda which has circulated around the websites and weblogs ever since the 9/11 attacks and the controversial Muhammad cartoon episode. Breivik maintained a lively interest in the most notable anti-Islam bloggers, such as “Fjordman”, with whom he occasionally seems to have corresponded, advertising his book project; one example of their dialogue can be found here, in the comment section. The title of Breivik’s book, “Declaration of European Independence”, is actually borrowed from a column which “Fjordman” wrote for the cultural-conservative “Brussels Journal”-blog. Breivik describes his ideology by the name “Vienna School of Thought”, which is a reference to another well-known paranoid anti-Islam blog, “Gates of Vienna”.

    This internet sub-culture where Breivik spent his pastime has not been without political significance. The very same post-modern, radical, fanatic cultural-fundamentalist atmosphere which produced Breivik has made serious inroads to the mainstream politics in the Western World, basing its success on populism and fear. The writers who inspired Breivik included known Muslim-baiting hate-mongers such as Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes, and he was fascinated by the Tea Party movement. Geert Wilders, the head of the Dutch PVV and the producer of Fitna, was among Breivik’s heroes, and his book even mentions – in one of the quoted posts from “Fjordman” – Jussi Halla-aho, a Finnish anti-Islam blogger who was elected as an MP of the populist “True Finns” party in the last elections and became the chairman of the parliamentary committee in charge of police, border guard and the immigration affairs. Breivik’s book endorses several “anti-immigration, cultural conservative organizations”, ranging from the Sweden-Democrats to the Polish PiS, all of which he saw as the possible salvation of the Continent from the supposed evils of multiculturalism and immigration. The only thing which made Breivik special was his conviction that this parliamentary political activity needed to be supplemented with direct action, and he saw himself as the man who could provide it.


    Go, read.
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    I've a post up at Demography Matters commenting on predictions that southern Europe will become impoverished and transformed into a Eurabian annex. No, this isn't true.
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    I've a post up at Demography Matters that takes a look at the most recent study disproving, using conservative projections and well-baswed facts, the idea that Muslim populations are going to surge to take over Europe, or are immune to the demographic transition altogether, or what have you. It's a pity that Eurabianists won't consider it.

    Go, read.
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    I've a post up at History and Futility that takes a look at the origins of Eurabia. Although it's substantially an ideology of revenge (ha ha, France, you're going to get raped by Muslims), it's at least as much an ideology of envy of Muslims. We lost our conservatism, they kept it, why can't we get it back?

    Go, read.
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    In one of his last posts before Acts of Minor Treason transitions to a mostly photoblog, Andrew Barton has a post describing something important about worldbuilding: a scenario about the future needs to be plausible.

    Originally dominated by farmland, ever since the 1950s its 4.8 square kilometers have been one of Metro Vancouver's industrial centers. I walked across it in order to reach the Alex Fraser Bridge, and I've been in few places quite so odd; on Sunday afternoons, it seems, Annacis Island is dead. There are few sidewalks, only a handful of businesses that aren't industrial, and I would be very surprised if anyone lived there. Obviously, I concluded, it would be a great place to put a thriving cityscape, eighty years hence! Annacis Island, a thriving place of adventure where anything can be had for the right price - boasting the largest concentration of parahumans in the Pacific Northwest! And I could develop it without having to worry about annoying reality.

    Population? Hmm... something like sixty thousand seems reasonable with enough density, no?

    It wasn't until later that I had an opportunity to do the math - and sure, with sufficient density, Annacis Island could theoretically support a population of sixty thousand - but with a population density of 12,500 per square kilometer, twice that of Hong Kong. In some places this would be believable - but even with the Lower Mainland penned in by mountains on one side, ocean on another, and the United States on still another, there's plenty of room to spread out here - and very little motivation to densify to such a degree without an extremely good reason to do so.


    This sort of thing applies for all scenarios purporting to predict future events. If you're making a prediction about the future--Europe's going to become Muslim, say--then you have to do your homework to see if the current trends suggest that, and if there's any likelihood of these trends changing abruptly. (No they don't, and no there's much likelihood.) Thinking about triggers for change--like, say, the Annacis Island hyperdensification--is provocative, but you have to think of reasons why. (Extraterritorial alien enclave in the middle of Metro Vancouver, perhaps?)

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